Tapas bars have been a part of the UK dining scene for a couple of decades. Tapas chains have seen a certain degree of success and there are many high-end Spanish operations that are held in high regard. On the whole Brits are getting good at eating Tapas. As an increasingly food fascinated population tapas works perfectly with the overall move towards eating less but more often. Grazing and sharing is a brilliant way to eat – more variety, less chance of food envy and a greater flexibility where the bill is concerned. Bring on the tapas.
Last year Omar Allibhoy embarked on a T-shaped road trip cross the UK to promote tapas. Everywhere he visited he cooked up a storm and invited people to get involved and learn more about tapas. He has now set up the first of his Tapas Revolution bars at the Westfield shopping centre. This may seem an odd place to start but in fact it only goes to confirm that people in the UK are really pro-tapas.
Omar’s bar, with dangling jamon, high black swivel stools and swish pewter top, sits opposite and slightly apart from the main food court as if it’s turning an arrogant shoulder. The food tastes homely, earthy and individual. The pigs cheeks in Pedro Ximenez were a reminder of a sticky winter stew, the croquetas were plump with smooth hammy béchamel centres. Boquerones or anchovies marinated in garlic and parsley were tangy and fresh served in glass jars that are topped up with extra virgin and shaken to serve.
Five years ago the concept of a bar in a shopping centre where you snack on padron peppers and sip a tumbler of Manzanilla would have been almost laughable, even more so that it would be busy… viva la revolución!
Excuse the absence, I've recently shifted employment. Three years at Square Meal came to end and 2011 is time for a new direction in the world of restaurants. I’m now at a company that deals with food service intelligence, a strategic consultancy company for big business and the coffee industry. I’m looking after this subscription based website called the Restaurant Brand Portal. It’s a natty hub of intelligence for industry bods who want to know anything there is about key players in the market. We’ve got about 100 restaurant profiles up with everything you wanted to know about them, menus, trends, news, who's who etc. Did you know that one of the investors behind the acclaimed Hawksmoor is a bloke called Paul Campbell the co-founder of Clapham House. Gourmet Burger Kitchen and The Real Greek are operated by Clapham House who were bought last year by Nando's. Fascinating stuff, I’m just beginning to scratch beneath the surface. More news soon...